If there’s money, there’s a visa: Greek officials seeking investors amongst Syrian refugees
Photo: Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock.com
The Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece intends to offer Syrian refugees the chance to participate in the investment programme for obtaining a residence permit.
Economic instability and the influx of refugees are two of the most urgent problems for the Greek government. Getting rid of them is proving to be very challenging; they are liabilities to the European Union, and contribute to the general decline of the financial sector. In order to at least partially remove the growing discontent and tension amongst the population, officials have to resort to non-trivial solutions, such as searching for investors where there seemingly are none.
Integration into the European investment community
Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Mardas has suggested offering the ‘Golden visa’ investment programme to Syrian refugees. According to him, many refugees are interested in obtaining a Greek residence permit and, most importantly, have the financial capacity to do so. The government just needs to make minor amendments to migration laws and show a little initiative.
According to Mardas, similar programmes have been implemented quite successfully in Egypt and Turkey. Between 2011 and 2016 Istanbul was able to raise more than €500m from Syrian entrepreneurs and private investors.
Live, but not work
The Greek ‘Golden visa’ is issued for investment in local real estate or securities. The minimum cost of the package is €250,000 (excluding VAT), and the process of registering a residence permit usually takes no more than two months. Minors and the investor’s spouse receive resident status without any additional financial investments, allowing them to freely visit Schengen countries, and claim Greek citizenship after 7 years.
A ‘Golden visa’ holder does not receive the right to work and/or do business in the country. They are also obliged to have an interview with the staff of the Migration Service before buying a property. High taxes and the economic turmoil of recent years are also not conducive to attracting investors.
A wicked project?
This complex initiative of the Deputy Minister has caused a lot of debate. Journalists and analysts are discussing not only the idea’s effectiveness, but also its moral side. Many Greek publications claim that Mardas has “decided to cash in on the refugees.”
Nikos Pappas, Greek Minister of State and the ‘right hand’ of Prime Minister Tsipras, has called the project inappropriate and immoral. According to him, these programmes are absolutely useless, and they will not help solve the problem of migrants, nor will they strengthen the Greek economy.
Journalists for the conservative newspaper Kathimerini support the Minister, as “even if we assume that some of the refugees have such savings, why do they bring them to Greece? A residence permit through investment is offered by many European countries, and almost all of them look much more attractive for investors than Greece.”